Sheffield United's 'robust' vetting process meant Manchester City duo were always destined to succeed

James McAtee and Tommy Doyle were always destined to enjoy their time at Sheffield United, Paul Heckingbottom has insisted, thanks to the robust vetting process all potential new signings are subjected to.
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Recruited on loan from Manchester City last summer, the midfielders both settled quickly after arriving in South Yorkshire with McAtee describing Bramall Lane’s first team squad as “family” and his team mate insisting he would be open to the idea of returning next season if Pep Guardiola agrees.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s home game against Wigan Athletic, which could see United take another step towards securing automatic promotion from the Championship, Heckingbottom claimed the selection checks he applies to would-be transfers meant he knew the duo were suited to life at the club.

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“We don’t try to sugar coat anything,” he said. “We let everyone who comes in know exactly what we expect from them and how hard they are going to have to work to get in (to the starting eleven) because that’s the way we go about things. Nothing is guaranteed to them.”

“With that approach,” Heckingbottom continued, “I think you tend to dodge the ones who aren’t going to fit in. By that, I mean the ones who might prefer to hear someone say ‘I’m going to build a team around you and that you aren’t going to have to run much.’ Some want that. Macca and Tommy didn’t.”

Doyle, described by McAtee during Wednesday’s pre-match media conference as being “brilliant” of late, is expected to make his 31st appearance of the campaign when United contest the first of two crucial matches over the Easter period. McAtee, who has featured 36 times, netted his sixth goal of the campaign during last weekend’s victory over Norwich City. With third-placed Middlesbrough losing to Huddersfield Town, that result saw United move six points clear of their rivals from Teesside with a game in hand. But Heckingbottom warned it would be a mistake to either think the race for second is now all but over or ignore the threat posed by Luton Town in fourth. After facing Wigan, United then travel to runaway leaders Burnley on Monday.

“I knew Tommy and Macca would enjoy it,” Heckingbottom said. “Because they ‘get it’ here.”